Friday, May 25, 2012
The Stone Roses, Warrington Parr Hall 23 March 2012
It's taken me two days to get round to this post, mostly because I just don't know where to begin.
The whole thing is surreal from start to finish. For a kick off I think this is the first gig that I've been to that ended up as national TV news. An excited member of my extended family appeared on BBC Breakfast the next morning, explaining how she only popped out for a loaf of bread and ended up watching The Stone Roses. It was that kind of day.
I got a tip off a couple of hours before tickets were released and, when I got to Palmyra Square, it was just the weirdest atmosphere. Security was out in force, crush barriers were being set up and there were loads of lads, about my age, dressed kind of the same, drinking beer and hanging around looking shifty.
Everyone knew what everyone else was there for, but none of us were saying anything. I'm not sure if this was because we didn't want to be left without a ticket, or - and this was me - maybe it just wasn't true. Were The Stone Roses really going to play Warrington, tonight, for just 800 fans, for free?
It was hilarious when it became clear that you needed a piece of band merchandise to qualify for a wristband. HMV sold out of CDs within minutes and I saw panic-stricken men with beer bellies sprinting around town, looking for anything Stone Roses-related.
Some people in the queue weren't happy when they heard that posters didn't count as official merchandise. I had come prepared for all eventualities - CD, DVD, book. Just covering the angles, know what I mean?
One of the ticket office staff said to me that she had never in her life seen so many happy people. I understood what she meant. People were hugging when they got a wristband.
But that was nothing compared to the atmosphere inside the venue later. If you could bottle it, they would never have bothered inventing ecstasy. Honestly, I have never, ever witnessed excitement levels like that. Part hype, part genuine brilliance, I can't think of a single other band that I've known cause so much hysteria among grown men and women.
And so, were they any good?
Well, yes. they sounded great. Ian Brown is no Pavarotti but that didn't matter. Every single person in the crowd knew every single word of every song, so he didn't really need to sing anyway.
To me they just sounded like I imagine The Stone Roses are supposed to. Mostly first album stuff, which meant John Squire didn't go all Led Zep on us and the band sounded really tight and together. That's probably because they have such a wonderful drummer.
I think the fact that the show was on a small scale made it special too. I've no idea what the Heaton Park stage set will be like but this was just the four of them on stage with minimal lighting, knocking out some of their best songs for an audience of no more than 1,000 people.
But when She Bangs The Drums came on, that 1,000 sounded like 100,000. It's already one of the best pop songs ever produced, but with a crowd this euphoric it was genuinely emotional. Surely moments like that are why Ian Brown, John Squire, Mani and Reni set up a band in the first place. I've even got goosebumps while I'm writing about it.
If you search for Stone Roses Warrington on YouTube, various videos are already available, which people have shot on their mobile phones. They did well because the bouncers were hot on grabbing people who were trying to film.
The best of the lot is by Steve Rutter, a guy I used to work with. In fact, just in case the day needed to get any more bizarre, his film got picked up by Granada Reports yesterday and they used it in their report on the show. I challenge you to watch it and not let the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. Good work Steve.